The EUTOPIA Certificate of Internationalisation (EUCI) - Student Stories

What is the EUCI?

The EUTOPIA Certificate of Internationalisation (EUCI) gives students a space in which they can discuss and reflect upon international experiences with fellow students from across the alliance.

Students also have the option to compile a reflective portfolio – which can include creative and multimedia elements – along with a ‘cover letter’ summarising how they have fulfilled the EUCI learning outcomes in order to obtain the certificate.

Here, we showcase a selection of recently submitted portfolios, with the kind permission of the students.

How can you get involved?

To learn more about the EUCI and find out how to enrol, please visit the programme homepage.

Filipa's story
Filipa Mladenova (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Filipa has enjoyed an extraordinary international journey, from her upbringing in Bulgaria to currently supporting an international community of progressive change-makers advocating for social, environmental and economic justice. Along the way, she describes the impact of growing up between Bulgaria and the US, participating in a European Parliament program for integration when Bulgaria was on its way to enter the EU, her experience as a tour guide in Paris and Barcelona, and ultimately the decision to return to university. While working on her degree in Political Science and Government at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, she got involved in the pilot of the EUTOPIA Open Innovation Challenge. Her portfolio describes how her international experiences prepared her for this, but also how the EUTOPIA program impacted her studies and perspectives on international challenges and cooperation.

‘Besides having to adapt to studying and communicating in three languages simultaneously - English, Spanish and Catalan - which on its own was a struggle, I had to find a way to overcome the cultural as well as generational differences with my classmates. Sometimes, I had to think about how younger Filipa would have reacted to certain situations to be more empathic to my classmates. This journey has taught me a lot about interpersonal relations and myself. I am thrilled to have overcome the barriers and to have made some excellent friends along the way who, despite our differences, consider me as one of their own.’

   - Read Filipa's EUCI Reflective Portfolio
   - Read Filipa's EUCI Cover Letter

Uwe's story
Uwe Fromm (University of Gothenburg)
Uwe describes his early international experiences as ‘a drop of water creating concentric shockwaves’, driving him to expand his own cultural boundaries at every stage of his academic, professional, and personal development. Uwe grew up in Germany, spent a year abroad at a U.S. high school, carried out internships in Belgium and Italy, and became a EUTOPIA Student Career Ambassador during his recent studies in Sweden. He makes a strong case for the value of stepping back and reflecting on such experiences and comments on how his engagement with EUTOPIA has added new layers to his international mindset.

'It is not often that you get the chance to be gifted some time to reflect and turn around, look back at where you are coming from, what your path has been, and what ultimately led you to the place you are today… I am considering this international and intercultural experience to be the drop falling onto a still water surface, creating concentric shockwaves that carry on to travel across the whole surface, impacting whatever comes in life after that impact and setting prior experiences into perspective… I am where I am because 10 years ago, I decided to go on an adventure and move to another country where I had to build up everything from scratch.'

   - Read Uwe's EUCI Reflective Portfolio
   - Read Uwe's EUCI Cover Letter
 
Marie's story
Marie Marchand (CY Cergy Université Paris)
As president of the EUTOPIA Student Council, Marie plays a key role in this student-centred alliance. In her reflective portfolio, she uses the experience of a single EUTOPIA Week as a focal point for exploring her perspective on internationalization. Marie describes her commitment to EUTOPIA as an inclusive space in which students help to shape the future of international Higher Education. She reflects candidly on the challenges of coordinating multiple perspectives across institutions and cultures (within and beyond Europe), but also embraces this challenge as a key aspect of her EUTOPIAn experience. This experience, as Marie says in her concluding remarks, has made her re-think her plans for an academic career and explore how she can continue to work in international relations.

'A great victory for me has been getting students involved in EUTOPIA and creating a real sense of community: this sense of belonging is really important… Speaking at a student conference regarding what the pandemic has taught us about mental health at universities, I argued that we need to stick together and share more with each other. We hear a lot of people on social media saying "this is my community", but sometimes we lose sight of the point: being a community means having strong links, finding common ground, and trying to help each other. I felt that very strongly when participating in events that were outside my usual spectrum in EUTOPIA. Things are always changing and the work can be stressful and exhausting…but I really love it!'

   - Watch Marie's EUCI Reflective Portfolio (video presentation) (Link  TBC)
   - Read Marie's EUCI Cover Letter
Gah-Kai's story
Gah-Kai Leung (University of Warwick)
Gah-Kai’s international perspective has developed through his Erasmus+ year abroad and subsequent teaching assistantship in France, as well as through his MA in Transnational Studies at UCL and his current doctoral studies in Political Theory at Warwick. In his portfolio, he offers an in-depth reflection on how multilingualism, intercultural awareness, and engagement with urgent global challenges have shaped his academic profile and career ambitions. Gah-Kai thereby shows how different forms of internationalization can play a crucial role in the early development of a researcher’s mindset.

'Coming from an immigrant family of Chinese extraction, I have long been fascinated by both Eastern and Western cultures, as well as the links between them. This fed my desire to study Mandarin [during] my MA degree in Transnational Studies at UCL. As part of this course, I wrote a project essay comparing Christmas and Chinese New Year. By putting these two festivals into conversation with each other, I acquired the linguistic skills needed to compare and contrast items in a foreign language. Furthermore, I gained an appreciation of the similarities and differences in the ways people in different parts of the world mark culturally significant dates in the calendar, thus enhancing my intercultural awareness. I was also able to use my own personal experience of both these festivals in order to bring out the connections and contrasts, thereby demonstrating the value of first-hand knowledge in explaining and interpreting cultural differences.'

   - Read Gah-Kai's EUCI Cover Letter